Speak no English: Part 1

Speak no English:
Part 1

Written by Grandpa Dinosaur

My mother doesn’t speak English properly, but she has a brilliant mind. I know, because I’ve seen her cuss people speechless. Her wits are fast and her tongue is eloquent and sharp, but her English is brutal. People often think my mother is stupid, but it’s not the case. I hate running around, it feels like I’m making excuses or that I’m going against a heavy tide by saying “just because my mother’s English is not perfect, doesn’t mean she’s stupid.”

She’s not stupid, she just can’t communicate in full English. That doesn’t make her stupid, or anyone stupid. I talk to people with limited English skills the same as I would, only repeating or translating as much with motion as I can. That’s how I, not my brother or father, taught my mother how to get her Canadian citizenship. Both my father and brother were impatient with my mother’s limited English knowledge, I sat down with her for months to prepare her for her citizenship, translating English and Cambodian back and forth so that she understood how to read English. It wasn’t that she was stupid, or she wouldn’t have passed. It’s just her knowledge of English was limited.

I’m tired of White people saying to my face that “people should learn to speak English.” People like me, who are Asian or even people who are Black, Latino, Indian, non-White “need to learn how to speak English.” As if from their mouths, the line trailed behind: “because you’re stupid if you don’t…..”

I’m repeating myself so that I can be understood, even though I hate to. I don’t know how many times I’ve had to pummel someone’s face while saying, “not being able to speak English does not make you stupid. It means you are unable to communicate in English, speak in English. That does not mean that you are stupid!”

Although I see speaking English as an asset, I’m quick to throat punch the people who criticize those that who do not have it as a first language. Especially if it’s my mom; best believe your shits gonna get fucked bad.

I know White people who grew up in Canada but can’t READ and WRITE—and yet they feel privileged to look down on non-White people, bully them and harass them because their English is not perfect but they are smart, talented or can do something better than said bully cannot do. However, the non-English speaker in question can’t defend themselves verbally against the bully’s threats.

How many times have I rolled up my sleeves to beat these fuckers down? Not every White person is a complete douchebag like that, I know, but if you defended as many people as I have—because as long as I am able to I will never turn my back on that shit—it feels like you’ve been fighting the world for a very, very long time.

Most people who don’t understand other languages or have English as their native tongue often discount the cultures and languages of foreign countries. There is a brilliance of culture in other lands; non-European, non-White and non-American Lands; always has been. They all have long, rich histories discounted because  Eurocentric schooling (and Eurocentricism in general) looks its noses down on them, dismissing their old books as if they were barbarian babbling and mocking their museums as collections of garbage.

I will stab someone in the neck if they say that Europe was the beginning of civilization and intelligence because of some bullshit philosopher in Greece or wherever as if the Chinese weren’t thinking and inventing, all along, as if the peoples of Africa weren’t doing the same, as if all non-White people didn’t have culture, hopes, aspirations, dreams, civilizations, inventions, history, literature, science, mathematics, music and art. Even if you teach some people that other ethnicities have culture, it’s like their damn minds fucking RESET after you meet them and you end up living in the twilight zone.

A Eurocentric Education system is a self-cannibalizing educational system; it reinforces Whiteness and downplays other cultures histories and achievements. This garbage even exists in Canada, where there are so many races, sexualities, religions and different kinds of people there should not be a condemnation of everything and anythnig NOT White…

But there is.

“White is right,” a White girl said to me once in highschool in a slip of the tongue reminding me the difference between left and right. The memory still lingers in my head.

White is not right.

So many things she did were so racist, but in her mind was normal because of internalized-rationalized racism.

The words sent shudders down my spine, my eyes turning to the tall, Muslim, Hockey player waving his hands as if to say no, no, don’t listen to her.

But I heard it, and you can’t unhear it. Or make excuses for it.

Remembering the hateful chatter of Chinese, Vietnamese, Cambodian condemnation for acting too White and then acting too Asian.

I remember those Asians who (tried to) self-identify as White, proudly proclaiming to be “bananas,” while following a crowd of White people and agreeing with everything they ever did or said, right or wrong, without ever questioning or disagreeing.

How Asian are you until North-Canadian Asians complain? How White do you act until they stop you? Is it because I speak English, maybe I should speak more Cambodian? No…

These thoughts run through my head every now and then.

I refuse to speak English when one demands it at a drop of a hat and I refuse to speak Cambodian if it is the sole proof of my cultural pride and heritage when it has nothing to do with culture and pride and everything to do with not being White-wash when these judges of “Asianess” are speaking to me in English…

I’ll continue this is the second part, I just got back from work and literally just had a mind explosion. See you again in part two.

But do enjoy this unrelated video:


~ by l on November 19, 2008.

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